I’m sure at this point most people know how futile the “Terror Alert” system is. There are no guidelines for how to act nor is there really a good outline of “Why” or “What” the increased or decreased terror alerts entail.
If you go back far enough they essentially had a system like this during the cold war. However it was pretty straight forward. You knew if it was going we were being nuked and you needed to go to a shelter. It’s not fun information but at least in that situation it may have been necessary.
The Terror Alert system however is entirely fruitless. It has been little more than a campaign tool. During the 2004 election campaign the Bush camp intentionally raised the threat level to help secure the win. You can find various websites and newspapers that covered this, if it so suites you.
The goal of terrorism is to remain on peoples minds. I highly doubt that people will ever forget the events of Pearl Harbor, yet you will not find people incessantly reminding anyone to ‘never forget 12-7"’, it is this never ending push to not allow it to settle that feeds into the entire mechanic of terrorism. While at this point it is painfully clichéd I would say that the moment we decided to not let it rest was the day that the terrorists “won”.
I realize they can’t win, I realize in death nobody wins, but egos demand that in all conflict there be a winner. While you will never truly find one you will at least find someone who claims to be that one. For as long as we have a terror alert level, for as long as we act differently because of what happened, for as long as we allow this facade that we are in any more danger now than we were before the twin towers, we have lost.
The Terror Alert system was a failure the moment it was unveiled, it was an insult to intelligence and currently a tool only used for political gain. It is the demand to never forget terrorism that fuels terrorisms growth because it proves to them that they are successful.
Then again, a simple plane ride, ferry ride, or train ride will prove to anyone that they were successful. How pitiful it is to watch 300 million change their lives because of the actions of a dozen.